Cambodian central bank set to launch new blockchain payment system

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Daniel Webber
Daniel Webber
Founder & CEO
Daniel is Founder and CEO of FXcompared and FXC Intelligence and has 18 years of experience in the international finance world focusing on cross-border payments, technology and the property sectors.… Read more
  • New platform, named “Project Bakong”, will see the National Bank of Cambodia step up its blockchain offer
  • Project has been under development since July last year
  • “Bakong will play a central role in bringing all players in the payment space in Cambodia under the same platform”, said the bank’s director general

A leading bank in South East Asia has announced that it will set up its own blockchain-based peer-to-peer payment platform.

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) said it would launch the online money transfer system in the coming months.

It has been referred to as “Project Bakong”, a press release from the central bank said.

This comes after a trial service was set up in July of last year.

It is understood to already be supported by more than 10 banks in the country.

Although it will be blockchain-based, there will be some key differences between Project Bakong and other examples of cryptocurrency.

It will, for example, not be decentralised – and will instead be part of what has been described as a “closed system”, which will instead be backed by banks.

In a statement, the president of one of the banks which is backing the new service ruled out the possibility of what he described as “speculation”.

“There is zero possibility of speculation using Bakong”, said Shin Chang Moo.

He also confirmed that his bank, the Phnom Penh Commercial Bank (PPCBank), will put the new system in action at every branch.

“We are in the final stages of the deployment”, he said.

“It has taken a little longer than expected because we were ensuring that the system is as useful and convenient for the users as possible. We will offer the service as soon as it launches”, he explained.

He dismissed concerns of various types – including worries around whether or not banks might see a dip in demand for their services.

“Some are concerned that banks might lose some of its market share to Bakong. This is partly true, at least in the short term”, he said.

“However, our industry is relatively immature in terms of the number of service providers and users. Bakong will eventually create financially inclusive ecosystems that all the stakeholders in the industry can benefit from”, he added.

For the National Bank, director general Chea Serey said that the long term goal was to increase international money transfer options too.

“Bakong will play a central role in bringing all players in the payment space in Cambodia under the same platform, making it easy for end-users to pay each other regardless of the institutions they bank with”, she said.

“Eventually, we hope to allow cross border payment through the Bakong system too”, she added.

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